Category Archives: Ecology

A critically endangered bird is losing its song

Brisbane Times reports: When Michael Alfa was setting up to photograph wildlife at Woolgoolga’s sewage works near the northern NSW town of Coffs Harbour last year, the avid birdwatcher could hardly believe his senses. There, among the warbling wattlebirds hanging off a coastal banksia tree, was a lone, critically endangered regent honeyeater, distinctive in its… Read More »

How bacteria and archaea influence one of Earth’s largest carbon stores as it begins to thaw

Monique Brouillette writes: For most of human history, permafrost has been Earth’s largest terrestrial carbon sink, trapping plant and animal material in its frozen layers for centuries. It currently stores about 1,600 billion tonnes of carbon — more than twice the amount in the atmosphere today. But thanks to rising temperatures, permafrost is fracturing and… Read More »

Nature knows how to avoid network collapse

Ruth DeFries writes: Sometime in the first billion years of the planet’s 4.5-billion-year history, a cell emerged in a primordial stew of chemicals brewing in liquid water. At that moment, the predictable chemistry and physics of the early Earth gave way to seething, roiling complexity. Primitive life thrived in the deep sea, where underwater volcanoes… Read More »

The unified cosmic vision of Alexander von Humboldt

Algis Valiunas writes: The presiding scientific genius of the Romantic age, when science had not yet been dispersed into specialties that rarely connect with one another, Alexander von Humboldt wanted to know everything, and came closer than any of his contemporaries to doing so. Except for Aristotle, no scientist before or since this German polymath… Read More »

Insect populations suffering death by 1,000 cuts, say scientists

The Guardian reports: Insect populations are suffering “death by a thousand cuts”, with many falling at “frightening” rates that are “tearing apart the tapestry of life”, according to scientists behind a new volume of studies. The insects face multiple, overlapping threats including the destruction of wild habitats for farming, urbanisation, pesticides and light pollution. Population… Read More »

To prevent the next Covid-19, we must prioritize biodiversity

Susan Lieberman and Christian Walzer write: From the most remote terrestrial wilderness to the most densely populated cities, humans are inexorably changing the planet. We have put 1 million species at risk of extinction, degraded soil and habitats, polluted the air and water, destroyed forests and coral reefs wholesale, exploited wild species, and fostered the… Read More »

Human-made stuff now outweighs every living thing on Earth

ScienceAlert reports: All of the Amazon’s splendid greenery. Every fish in the Pacific. Every microbe underfoot. Every elephant on the plains, every flower, fungus, and fruit-fly in the fields, no longer outweighs the sheer amount of stuff humans have made. Estimates on the total mass of human-made material suggest 2020 is the year we overtake… Read More »

The wisdom of pandemics

David Waltner-Toews writes: Wisdom is the ability to discern inner qualities and subtle relationships, then translate them into what others recognise as good judgment. If it comes to us at all, wisdom is the product of reflection, time and experience. A person might achieve wisdom after decades; a community after centuries; a culture after millennia.… Read More »

Trump to strip protections from Tongass National Forest, one of the biggest intact temperate rainforests

The Washington Post reports: President Trump will open up more than half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging and other forms of development, according to a notice posted Wednesday, stripping protections that had safeguarded one of the world’s largest intact temperate rainforests for nearly two decades. As of Thursday, it will be legal for… Read More »